The American Taliban?

I’ve written several times about our domestic Christian Taliban (here, for instance), and Herb Van Fleet brought the following clip from HBO’s The Newsroom to my attention:

Dreams

I saw a Tweet last night from Eric Cantor, who, along with Mitch McConnell, is one of the Chief Obstructors of the Republican Party, obstructors who have helped keep economic growth sluggish under President Obama and thereby hurt folks who haven’t achieved the dream that, say, Mitt Romney has achieved.

Cantor’s message is one, ironically, that pretty much sums up the purpose of the Republican Party and the reason Mittens wants to be prez:

Mitt Romney is the candidate for people…who dream big dreams and achieve them, he said.  “And achieve them.”

Hmm. If you are a person who dreams big dreams but doesn’t quite achieve them, Mitt Romney’s not your guy.

I think Cantor got that just about right.

Factless Facts

After nearly a week of hard and grueling work covering the Republican convention, the fact checkers can take a well-deserved weekend off.

In fact, they just as well take the rest of the year off, and maybe never come back.

Why? Because Republicans have decided Mittens and Paul, after all, are entitled to their own set of facts, facts that are beyond checking by journalists, or anyone else who doesn’t share an enthusiasm for, well, lying.

As Media Matters noted, the truth-detectors are being shot, one by one, by Romney surrogates and the campaign’s rather extensive public relations department, also known as conservative media:

♦ Romney pollster Neil Newhouse:

We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

♦ Rush Limbaugh:

Within five minutes, the drive-by media was on a mission to try to prove that Paul Ryan had lied. And they got their bogus fact-checkers up and in gear.”

♦ John Nolte of Breitbart:

For four long years, I’ve waited for these disgracefully partisan left-wing fact checkers to implode, and this morning and last night it finally happened.”

♦ And another piece of wisdom from Nolte:

This isn’t journalism; this is extortion. And “lie” is nothing more than the new word the corrupt media uses to describe any and all effective attacks launched against Their Precious One.”

♦ Jon Scott of Fox “News”:

…a rousing speech from Paul Ryan gets folks at the convention all fired up. But there’s also been some criticism of the speech. Some media outlets suggesting he got some of his facts wrong. Is that fair?

♦ National Review:

The website PolitiFact is going to be truth-squadding the Republican convention speakers this week, delivering verdicts on which claims are “mostly true” and which deserve a “pants on fire” rating. Our advice: Pay no attention to those ratings. PolitiFact can’t be trusted to get the story right.”

♦ Erick Erickson of Red State:

The media’s fact checkers are propped up as arbiters of truth when they just still promote the media’s own bullcrap, just this time with a “truth” label stuck to it.”

So, the Romney campaign will not be “dictated by fact-checkers,” and thus by facts, because fact-checkers are “bogus,” “left-wing,” “corrupt,” “unfair,” “untrustworthy” and promoters of their own “bullcrap,” whatever that means.

The result of this all-out offensive against fact-based journalism will, of course, have an effect. It will, as it always does, make mainstream journalists,

a) think twice before writing or broadcasting a story claiming Republicans got their facts wrong, and/or

b) make those journalists play the “both sides do it” game and hand Democrats just as many Pinocchios as they give Republicans, thereby making it safe for Romney-Ryan to keep on lyin’.

And that is the reason for the offensive.

Bronco Billy And The Convention Circus

I guess Donald Trump wasn’t available.

But they got the next best thing.

I don’t know who the Republican genius was that thought it would be a good idea to have Clint Eastwood address the convention in prime time, but, as a Democrat, I’d like to personally thank him or her.

Unfortunately, by now the Republicans have offered their thanks to the genius by giving him or her a much less dignified, but certainly much more challenging, job: getting the chili sauce stains out of Newt Gingrich’s shirt, after that disappointed Romney surrogate got a little sloppy last night while pulling an all-you-can-eat all-nighter at the Golden Corral in Tampa.

That’s how Newt drowns his sorrows, and Republicans had reason to be especially sorrowful, after they quickly figured out that this year’s Republican National Convention will now be remembered, fittingly, as the night Clint Eastwood gave his greatest performance, at least in terms of representing today’s GOP.

His utter disrespect for President Obama, though cringe-inducing for most normal folks, was quite enjoyable for those lucky enough to be in the house for such buffoonery. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a Cheech and Chong routine performed by Donald Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, with that zany Republican duo smoking dope, talking trash about Obama’s phony birth certificate, and doing an updated Obama-version of  “Basketball Jones.”

Our own Ozark Billy Long was in attendance and said this about Eastwood’s performance:

The crowd ate it up. They loved Clint Eastwood and loved his speech and my tip off was when all the liberals, including David Axelrod, was one of the first to chime in on Twitter, and, uh, some of the media folks down here started tweetin’ about how terrible it was, how egregious it was, and I thought, well, if we’ve ticked those people off, he probably did what he was suppose to do out there…talkin’ to the president, who wasn’t there, I thought that that was pretty entertaining…

And thus I leave you with that wonderful assessment from my congressman, our representative from Missouri’s 7th District. I am damned proud to be from such a place that would put such a man in Washington, D.C.

Aren’t you?

About Mitt Romney’s Shirts

Just before Mittens takes the stage tonight—a stage that has been moved “closer to the people” just to help him connect with the people—I am thinking about that connection problem with common folks who don’t send their under-the-mattress money to European banks for tender loving care.

I found the Romney’s “Costco” interview with Chris Wallace highly entertaining, what with Mrs. Romney desperately trying to convince us that her husband could relate to the ordinary Joe who is forced to wear shirts from a big box discount store.

That’s okay by me. I don’t want to hate Mitt Romney. And although I think his lifestyle and his mannerisms and his jokes and his lying are creepy, I don’t want to think he is, outside of politics, a bad human being who may or may not routinely wear shirts from Costco.

In her convention speech the other night, Ann Romney shared, for public consumption, this tidbit:

When Mitt and I met and fell in love, we were determined not to let anything stand in the way of our life together. I was an Episcopalian. He was a Mormon.

We were very young. Both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage, and you know? We just didn’t care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold-down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days.

The idea here, of course, is to portray the beginning of the Mitt and Ann Romney family as fairly typical of the way most American couples start out, having little but loving each other much.

But even if those young Romneys did eat “a lot of pasta and tuna fish,” the attempt at “we know what life is like for folks who don’t have much” sounded totally artificial to me.

You see, there is a difference between young folks starting out and walking the high wire of life 50 feet up, without a net and only the hard concrete of reality below, and folks walking that high wire only about five feet up with a feather bed to land on, should they, God forbid, fall.

And the young Romneys certainly had the comfort of knowing that their landing, should it have been necessary, would mean they would live to take another walk, comfortably and without a limp.

That obviously makes a lot of difference in terms of one’s security and well-being. And thus I think the Romneys would have to work hard to ever understand, even incompletely, what it is like to be on that 50-foot high wire knowing that one slip means a hard fall.

Melissa Harris Perry, commenting on Romney’s “disconnect” from the average voter, made a point today that I have not heard another soul make during all the incessant chatter about Mittens:

It’s not a sympathy question. It’s not a question of whether Mitt Romney can be sympathetic. It’s a question of whether or not he has empathy, in other words, a kind of first-hand knowledge and understanding of what the kinds of struggles ordinary Americans are facing right now…

Ah. Sympathy versus empathy:

Both empathy and sympathy are feelings concerning other people. Sympathy is literally ‘feeling with’ – compassion for or commiseration with another person. Empathy, by contrast, is literally ‘feeling into’ – the ability to project one’s personality into another person and more fully understand that person.

That’s it. That’s what needs to be understood about Romney and why his awkwardness in connecting with folks is not as important as what guides him as he fashions the policies he will pursue, should his campaign of lies be successful.

I have no doubt that Romney is a charitable man, who has done many good things for others in his personal life. In fact, in my experience sympathy often produces personal charity. But let’s don’t pretend that such charity is purely an act of unselfishness.

Mrs. Romney said this in her speech:

Mitt doesn’t like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point. And we’re no different than the millions of Americans who quietly help their neighbors, their churches and their communities. They don’t do it so that others will think more of them.

They do it because there is no greater joy. “Give and it shall be given unto you.”

Get that? “They do it because there is no greater joy,” which means they do it because it brings them joy. They get something out of the giving. It is, paradoxically, a form of selfishness. That quote from scripture, Luke 6:38, makes this point even more clear:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.

Give because it feels good, is what Ann Romney actually said. And Jesus said it will actually bring good things your way to boot.

In my reckoning, empathy—in Melissa Harris Perry’s words,”a kind of first-hand knowledge and understanding of what the kinds of struggles ordinary Americans are facing“—is a different thing. It may produce charitable acts, certainly, but in a political context it also should produce public policies designed not as handouts based on our feeling sorry for folks who are down and out, or folks who are struggling to make a living or get an education, or folks who have grown old and insecure, but because we, as a people, know the struggles that some people face.

And unlike the personal reward for charitable giving, “no greater joy,” the reward for advancing and supporting policies that provide funds for food or health care or education or retirement is civilization, the comfort of knowing that we live and breathe in a land where people don’t have to go hungry or go without health care or miss out on an education or worry about the insecurity of old age. In a word,  empathy creates the net that should be below everyone, not just the Romneys of the world.

I am not saying that rich people like Mitt and Ann Romney can’t empathize with others, nor support public policies that ensure the well-being of all. There have been plenty of wealthy people, including George Romney, who supported such policies.

I just know that Mitt Romney has had a hard time demonstrating such empathy during this campaign, but, more important because it is more telling, many of the policies he champions as a presidential candidate certainly don’t give us the slightest bit of confidence that he understands the struggles of ordinary Americans.

In fact, those policies demonstrate just the opposite, and buttoning up a Costco shirt each morning has absolutely nothing to do with it.

The Ryan Speech

Should not the multitude of words be answered? And should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy lies make men hold their peace? And when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou has said, “My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in Thine eyes.”

But, oh, that God would speak and open His lips against thee…

—The Book of Job

aul Ryan claims he is a good Catholic boy. And now we know that good Catholic boys make incredibly good liars.

Lying in politics mostly comes in the art form of spinning the facts to one’s advantage. Every politician does that and it is part of the profession. But sometimes there comes along a practitioner of the political arts who goes beyond spin, beyond the normal bounds of the business.

Paul Ryan essentially began his journey toward a new national political career and conservative stardom by denying his philosophical mentor, Ayn Rand, three times before the Romney-cock crowed with the news that he wanted Ryan to be his partner in a new limited liability company, Romney-Ryan.

And once he shamelessly denied his undeniable teacher, once Ryan said, “I reject her philosophy,” it was easy for this good Catholic boy to become part of a campaign that is brazenly attempting to elect Romney-Ryan, LLC, on a platform of secrecy, subterfuge, and slander.

Wednesday night’s convention speech was Ryan’s introduction to low-information voters, those folks who don’t much follow the news or pay attention to politics until it is forced upon them by the networks.

Thus, the temptation to tell the most audacious lies possible to that audience was irresistible, because first impressions are important, especially when a campaign has enough Koch and other billionaire money to keep impressing, to keep the lies going, fact-checkers be damned.

Ryan has lied about a GM plant closing in his hometown of Janesville, saying on August 16 of this year:

I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open. One more broken promise.

During his convention speech last night, he lawyered up that claim and put it this way:

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.

You see the serpent’s subtlety here? The sophist’s sophistication? In this version of things, Ryan is not now claiming Obama broke his promise to keep the plant open—because he never made such a promise—but he is connecting Obama with the plant’s closing in a way that makes it appear Mr. Obama was responsible for it.

The problem is the plant closed just before Christmas in 2008, a month before the newly-elected president took office.

Ryan also lied during his speech about the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, co-chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson:

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

Notice the “they” in that sentence construction. “They came back with an urgent report.” But Mr. Ryan was part of that debt commission, part of that “they.” And he voted to kill the effectiveness of that “urgent report.” He did that. He voted to kill that report, which fell three votes short of being adopted and sent to Congress for an up or down vote.

And then Ryan claimed that Obama did “exactly nothing.” Hardly. As CNN pointed out:

Obama never fully embraced the Bowles-Simpson recommendations. But he incorporated some of the recommendations the co-chairs made in a plan he sent to Congress the following April, one that called for a mix of spending reductions and tax hikes.

All that and more is bad enough. But the most brazen of lies Ryan told on Wednesday, the one that should have literally brought the building down upon him if God were paying attention, was this one:

…the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.

Now, not only is that a lie, it is one of those lies that the liar knows is a lie, as opposed to a simple friendly spin of the facts. Because there are no facts here to spin. This is an utter lie and it has time and again been exposed as one by fact checkers. But Romney-Ryan, LLC, are not in the fact business. That’s not their trade, not their expertise.

What they are good at is taking an admittedly effective lie and simply repeating it, again and again and again, against the wind of truth, as if the wind blows right through them—no, as if there is no wind.

Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly,” he said. He actually said that. He stood there in front of millions of people, his Catholic Christian credentials on his sleeve, and told older Americans that Mr. Obama, using “the biggest, coldest power play of all,” was using them—folks on Medicare, for God’s sake— for his scheme of “government-controlled health care.”

How does such wicked hubris get born?  Where does such dark audacity come from?  From the same place this comes from:

So our opponents can consider themselves on notice. In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the Left isn’t going to work. Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program, and raiding it.

Never mind that Mr. Ryan’s famous budget, which Mitt Romney enthusiastically embraced, included the same smart reductions in spending—not a penny of which “came at the expense of the elderly“; and never mind that Obamacare makes Medicare more solvent and offers older folks free preventive services and closes the prescription drug donut hole; and never mind that when Romney-Ryan, LLC, get finished with Medicare, “raiding it” may be impossible because there may not be an it to raid.

I know some Democrats today are a little nervous. Ryan’s speech, replete as it was with falsehoods, was a powerful one. Lies can be quite seductive. And I know some on the left are worried that successfully combating such a blatant and well-funded disregard for the truth may be impossible.

But of course it is not impossible. There is plenty of time. We will have our turn in the spotlight. We have our message. But part of that message must include a new offensive against the devilish disdain for facts that characterizes the brand of Republican politics that Romney-Ryan, LLC, are trying to sell to that razor-thin slice of the electorate who remain open to persuasion.

Democrats must, they simply must, begin today to call both Mr. Ryan, a former altar boy, and Mr. Romney, a fiercely loyal Mormon, what they are: liars of a rare breed who simply continue to lie despite being shouted down by the facts.

A rare breed of liars with a treasure chest of riches that can buy enough 30-second ads to shout down those shouting facts and smother the fact checkers. A breed so rare that we may never—must never—see their likes again.

And if Democrats fail to push back and win against such brazenness, if the dark partnership of Romney-Ryan is successful with its strategy of deceit, if they walk into the White’s House on a red carpet of fiction and fraud, then that rare breed of liars will no longer be so rare. They will beget a legion of imitators.

And our politics, our democracy, will never be the same.

____________________________

Blinded By The White As I Watched The Convention

“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

—Rick Santorum, January 1, 2012

kay, it took about a twelve pack, but I made it through the night watching the evening speeches at the Republican National Convention.

Hopefully, you all had better things to do than spend an evening gazing at a sea of white conservatives, listening to sometimes angry white speakers tell us that the Scary Negro in the White’s House is robbing all the nice, hard-working whites and giving the booty to other lazy, scary Negroes.

That, my friends, was the one coherent theme of the night, once you cleared away the fog.

I will offer up a few observations on what I saw, after John Boehner declared that President Obama should be tossed out of the White’s House Bar and Grill for, uh, offering health insurance to those who don’t have it, or something like that. It was that kind of night.

Chris Christie‘s delivery of the keynote speech was, I think a fair-minded observer would say, at best angry and at worst pissed off. As was noted by many a commentator, he spoke mostly about himself, which is probably why he was in such a foul mood.

He said, less than lovingly,

We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down…

He said that just before he started tearing down Democrats.

Christie also said,

Our seniors are not selfish.

He better hope they are if he wants Republicans to win in November, since his party is selling its Medicare overhaul to them by assuring the geezers they won’t have to suffer its effects but their children and grandchildren will.

Ann Romney, God love her, did her best to tell us why Mittens was fit to be president and why he will work harder than any human being in the history of the planet to ensure that, well, that, uh, uh….I’ll have to go check the transcript on that one. I’m not exactly sure why she thinks Mittens ought to be president.

The various governors who spoke spent most of their time noting their personal economic achievements, which is funny since those achievements came under a president they claim is asphyxiating economic achievement. More tortuous Republican logic I suppose.

Rick Santorum‘s speech was very special. It was special in this sense: If an atheist wanted to advance incontrovertible evidence that there was no God, it might be the fact that Santorum managed to tell that fact-checked lie about Obama gutting welfare reform without being struck by a rather large and deadly bolt of heavenly lightning straight from the hand of the being who reportedly said,

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

But—I am now speculating—that since Santorum was not fried by divine outrage, there must have been some Talmudic technicality employed here, like, say, that Barack Obama, not being born in America, is not really a “neighbor.” God, as we all know, is a stickler for technicalities like that.

In any case, my favorite, and I assert most representative speaker of the night, was someone named Janine Turner, an actress and “talk show host” I confess I had never heard of. Her presentation pretty much set the tone for this night at the convention, and it nicely sums up what most Republicans actually think about government and the president who leads it.

She began my evening of beer-enhanced entertainment with what can only be described as a call to arms, delivered in a very creepy manner. When a Republican begins an address with, “Hello my fellow patriots!” then you know Democrats are about to be assaulted with both barrels.

Ms. Turner commenced her attack on Democrats with a lie, the substance of which was repeated in some form or another by nearly every subsequent speaker and a lie that deserves some space to refute. First the lie:

Our Constitution guarantees us a republican form of government in Article 4, Section 4, but our liberal brethren, they don’t feel constrained by our Constitution—that’s convenient for them—by ignoring constitutional limits they do what ever they like, don’t they? Yes! Like grow the government to unbelievable and unsustainable heights and accumulate historic and catastrophic debt.

Now, I’m not exactly sure how high liberals would like to see government grow. It is entirely conceivable that they would like to see it grow to “unbelievable and unsustainable heights,” although Republicans have set a standard that Democrats will have a hard time surpassing.

But the problem for Ms. Turner’s thesis that liberals have accumulated “historic and catastrophic debt” and that they want a very tall and unsustainable government is that it so happens the very right-wing Washington Times, which I am sure is part of Janine Turner’s bathroom reading regimen, began a story in October of 2008 with this wonderful paragraph:

George W. Bush rode into Washington almost eight years ago astride the horse of smaller government. He will leave it this winter having overseen the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt seven decades ago.

Ouch!

The story goes on to note,

Mr. Bush already is the first president in history to implement budgets that crossed the $2 trillion a year and $3 trillion a year marks. His final budget, which comes to an end Sept. 30, conceivably could near $4 trillion, depending on the final tab for the financial rescue.

The Washington Times article also included this:

…federal budget numbers show spending under the Bush administration rose from 18.4 percent of GDP to 22.5 percent – a 4.1-point increase – and could end up even higher.

The only presidents to approach that level of growth were President Carter, who grew spending as a percentage of GDP by 1.5 points, and President Ford, who grew it by 1 point. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan and Clinton all decreased spending relative to the overall economy.

Measured in dollars, “Federal spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton,” said Mr. Riedl of the Heritage Foundation.

Hmm. But there’s more:

As a result of all this spending, the country has gone from a $128 billion budget surplus when Mr. Bush took office to a deficit of at least $732 billion in fiscal 2009, according to OMB. The final 2009 deficit likely will be even higher.

Of course the deficit was higher—much higher—and it is that trillion-dollar-plus deficit that Mr. Obama inherited and with which we still live today, thanks largely to Republicans, who cut taxes and went on a spending binge.

So, that’s that.

But Ms. Turner’s real point—and the subtextual theme for the night—was yet to come:

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Yes. But today Obama enabled an entitlement society that says, “Give me liberty and gimme gimme.” Why? Because Democrats depend on dependence. America was not born with a gimme-gimme mentality and American liberty cannot survive with a gimme-gimme mentality. America was built with her hands at work, not with her hands out…

Free enterprise has paved the way for Americans to earn their own success and it has created an America that has yielded an unprecedented level of progress. This progress has lifted up humanity to greater heights of living and a greater level of dignity. Mitt Romney will preserve this exceptional American legacy.

Barack Obama? Barack Obama will destroy it. Obama is stifling the American Dream primarily because it isn’t his dream. His dream is not of an independent people. His dream is of a dependent people based on the failed principles of antiquated government.

You see? Obama, the “food stamp president,” doesn’t dream the same kind of dream those white folks in that Tampa convention center dream. In fact, he not only doesn’t dream their dream—the American Dream—he is actively seeking to “destroy” their dream, to take what they have worked so hard for and give it to those lazy folks with their “gimme, gimme” hands out, their greedy, undeserving—and pigmented—hands.

Skin In The Game

You may not know it—I know I didn’t—but in this age of austerity, 18 states “have cancelled Medicaid funding for circumcisions,” according to Newser.

And the circumcision rate in the U.S. is “down to 55% from 79% three decades ago,” with one study claiming,

that the US health care system could face an additional $4 billion in costs over the next decade if rates continue to fall.

Now, I think that is a small price to pay to cover budget shortfalls resulting from widespread Republican resistance to tax increases. So what, if in the long run, such resistance results in greater costs:

The health benefits of newborn circumcision—including reduced chances of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and the transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV—outweigh the risks, according to a policy statement published today by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In an update to its 13-year-old policy, reports the AP, the leading pediatricians group stops just short of endorsing the procedure, but does recommend that insurance companies pay for it.

One way or another, all of us must have some skin in the game if America is to survive.

Akin Is “Our Guy” Says Ozark Billy

Southwest Missouri congressman Ozark Billy, who recently and stupidly said, “We’re not the land of the free anymore,” has now thrown his considerable weight—that’s not really a metaphor—behind the embattled Todd Akin, according to Politico:

First-term Rep. Billy Long, who represents the conservative southwestern portion of the state, said Akin was the party’s candidate, whom he planned to support.

“The people of Missouri voted for him, and he’s our guy,” Long told POLITICO. “And either you’re for Todd Akin and I’m not for Claire McCaskill. … He’s been an underdog his whole life, he won a lot of races he wasn’t supposed to win, so I think he can win.”

Yep, against the stream of establishment sentiment, our own Ozark Billy is making a gallant stand for ignorance and bigotry, but he’s not the only local embracing  Todd Akin’s “gaffe,” which, of course was not a gaffe but a rare moment of honesty and clarity.

Jasper County pooh-bah and resident Christian moralist-slash-Glenn Beck fan, John Putnam, said Mittens “needs to rescind” his demand that Akin give up the fight, and he offered this:

I think Reince Priebus and Roy Blunt and all the people need to support the candidate that the folks from Missouri nominated and picked in the primary. I think the GOP party bosses that are trying to drum him out are creating a bigger split in the party than Todd Akin is.

We’ll see whether Romney, true to form, or Priebus or Blunt waffles on Akin and accepts the Jasper County Republican’s godly counsel, but I have to admit that, for once, I agree with John Putnam. Party bosses—and right now there ain’t no bigger boss than Mittens—are creating a “split” in the party between evangelicals, who actually believe the nutty stuff they say, and regular party guys—characters who wouldn’t know Jesus if he jolted them with a bolt of overdue lightning—who use those evangelicals to obtain political power.

But my guess is that the evangelicals who are being used will, despite their Akin-induced dissatisfaction with the party honchos, nevertheless come to GOP Jesus and work hard to get their superiors elected, what with that Black Devil, Barack What’s-His-Unholy Name, lurking in the electoral shadows.

Meanwhile, the Black Devil’s Missouri handmaiden, Claire McCaskill, will likely save her job, despite the fact that the faithful, led by conservative crusader and buffet king Billy Long, will try their best to exorcise her evil self from the United States Senate.

Reince Priebus Down For The Count

 

Rarely, if ever, has a Repubican bigwig like Reince Priebus, the nasty Chairman of the Republican National Committee who daily slanders President Obama on TV, faced what he faced this morning on Morning Joe, as Chris Matthews executed a tilt-a-whirl mat slam on his lying ass, then when Priebus tried to get up, Matthews finished him off with a perfect spinning headlock elbow drop.

This is damned good television:

 

A Window

A window is a transparent or translucent opening in a wall or door that allows the passage of light…

—from Wikipedia

s that festival of falsehoods, that carnival of calumny, that pageant of prevarication known as the Republican National Convention is about to begin, I want to note all the attempts over the weekend to alchemize Mitt Romney, to shake that famous Etch-A-Sketch and draw him anew.

All three cable channels, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox “News,” presented some form of “get to know the Romneys better” piece, with CNN and Fox, of course, doing the most to turn the Romney we have come to know—as Fox’s Chris Wallace reminded us in his fluffy “Costco” piece, Mittens has been running for president eight years—into something more palatable, more marketable to that thin slice of the electorate who is still open to persuasion.

And by the way, one has to wonder, at this point, why there are any folks left—among those who will bother to vote—who haven’t made up their minds. Obviously, some haven’t been paying close attention, since politics for them is, like the recent Olympics, an every-four-year event.

Others, let’s face it, aren’t really willing or capable of making a rational choice, particularly one that might actually help serve their own economic interests. This micro niche of people will, almost literally, wait until the last minute and essentially hang their vote on some scrap of information—true or false—that will give them peace with their “choice.”

That having been said, all the attempts to refurbish Romney don’t really matter. It’s not important for people, who are still evaluating him, to conclude that Romney is a bad man or a good man or to figure out “who he is, what makes him tick,” as a Republican spokesman said this morning.

Because ultimately what should matter to everyone is exactly what President Obama told the Associated Press:

I can’t speak to Gov. Romney’s motivations. What I can say is that he has signed up for positions, extreme positions, that are very consistent with positions that a number of House Republicans have taken. And whether he actually believes in those or not, I have no doubt that he would carry forward some of the things that he’s talked about.

That is what matters. What will a President Romney actually do? Has he embraced all those “extreme positions” just for show, just to appease the extremists who hold them? In order to believe that one would have to believe Mitt Romney is an abject liar and then vote for that abject liar. Or one can believe that Romney means what he says and he will govern, as much as Democrats permit him, with those extreme positions as his guide.

Listen to RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who when he wasn’t dodging rhetorical bullets from Chris Matthews on Morning Joe this morning, uttered this syntactically challenged but revealing sentence:

What more specific can he get than picking Paul Ryan as his Vice President?

That statement, fresh from the lips of the GOP chairman, is ten-months pregnant with the truth about Mitt Romney. He chose Paul Ryan—who undoubtedly is a hero to extremist conservatives everywhere—precisely because it best demonstrates how he will govern. Ryan has spent his entire adult life—all of it!—in Washington, D.C., and if anyone knows how the place works, he does. And if anyone can lead Romney to that Randian promised land, he can.

Priebus told us this morning that Ryan and his House GOP budget are “a window into the types of things we need to do…

A window,” he said. If people will only open their eyes and see.

An Inspired Idea For Putting “A Human Face” On Mittens

A regular commenter, John McNight, recently offered Republicans a brilliant idea:

The upcoming Republican National Convention plans to reintroduce Mitt Romney to America; an effort will be made to put a human face on the nominee. I hope this staged endeavor features Mitt, Hank Williams Jr. and Donald Trump lounging around a cracker barrel, cracking ‘birther’ jokes with Sheriff Arpaio. After the laughter has died down they can then display genuine sadness that America has an illegal alien in the Oval Office. Even though drinking whiskey is against Mitt’s religious beliefs — as are releasing income tax documents — maybe he’ll send the Tennessee delegation into a flag waving frenzy when accepting Hank’s offer to take a pull. It’s too bad Sarah Palin won’t be in attendance. Having her jump over the old country store stage set on a red, white and blue motorcycle would undoubtedly set off a thunderous chorus of USA! USA!

My response:

John,

Now that I think about it, what better way to “put a human face” on Mittens than, “A Relaxing Evening With Three Rednecks,” featuring a conspiracy-drunk fake billionaire from New York City, a washed-up country singer from Nashville nicknamed after a ventriloquist dummy, and a fascistic xenophobe-with-a-badge from Phoenix? That undoubtedly classy presentation of a real cross-section of Republican America would be one that Democratic convention planners could only hope to top.

As for Sarah Palin, there is a good reason she won’t be part of the act in Tampa and thus will not be jumping over “the old country store stage set” on a patriotically dressed hog, her Arctic-warming cleavage presented with all the on-air tastefulness of a Fox “News” “info-babe.”

The resulting erotic commotion among the Viagra-needy “sock monkey-waving social conservatives” (nice phrase you came up with, by the way; have you ever thought of blogging?) in attendance would be too much for local security to contain, what with SKIN Tampa—the city’s “only upscale Full Nude Ultra Lounge” and “home of the $10 lap dance“—a mere five minutes from the convention center. A thunderous herd of hopped-up, manly Palinistas seeking less wholesome titillating entertainment is not part of the contingency plans of Tampa’s finest, I’m sure.

And speaking of SKIN Tampa, the laissez-faire entrepreneurial spirit, so much celebrated by the Republican Party, is alive and well in Florida. Not letting an obvious profit opportunity pass it by, SKIN Tampa has an unassailable bidness strategy. It is offering:

FREE transportation and complimentary VIP for RNC Attendees and Press

How many times, do you suppose, that Bible-totin’, social conservative good ol’ boys get a chance to play VIP for a night, uh, for a night or three, in the presence of butt-nekkid small bidness gals as they freely advertise their best God-given assets?

From SKIN Tampa‘s website, you can see how much thought went into attracting patriotic teavangelicals:

My guess is that the jacked-up SUV in the picture above will spend a lot of time shuttling male folks hanging around the Elect Peter Kinder tent, or, when it is up and running, “curious” guys trolling near Dick Morris’ Free Pedicure booth.

Duane

Fill ‘Er Up! At Your Nearest Gun Station

 A man was killed last week in Joplin outside a nightclub, at least one and possibly both men involved packing heat.

Oh, don’t ask why someone would want a gun with them during a night of drinking and dancing. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

In any case, here are some stats on guns in America that I had not seen before:

♦ There are more than 129,817 federally licensed gun dealers in the United States, a staggeringly high number that almost matches the number of gas stations across the country—143,839. Think about that. Think about how many convenience stores you pass in a day and then think about all those folks out there selling guns for a living each and every bleeping day.

♦ There were 5,459,240 new firearms made in the United States in 2010, nearly all of them for American consumers. Not only that, we imported 3.2 million more.

♦ In 2010, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checks for gun purchases. Of those, less than one-half of one percent—78,211—were denied.

♦ “Since 1998 there have been more than 151 million NICS checks.  Each check doesn’t necessarily represent a single gun, just a single transaction. If one were to purchase two guns at one time, there would only be one check.”

♦ “According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between 2006 and 2010 47,856 people were murdered in the U.S. by firearms, more than twice as many as were killed by all other means combined.”

So, why should one be surprised when one sees this headline, even here in the capital of God-loving America:


“Spread-Eagle Search”

Rep Steve King, the Todd Akin of Iowa, said something stupid again—no, I’m not talking about his support for animal fighting, but something else—and there is video. King said:

As America, we’ve decided that we’re going to process everybody the same. So that means the 75-year-old grandmother gets the spread-eagle search and while that happens, maybe the 20-year-old Middle Eastern male waltzes through with a smirk on his face. I’m not making that up. I’ve seen that. That image will not ever leave my mind.

I’m not quite sure why King is so fascinated by the image of a 75-year-old grandma getting the old “spread-eagle search,” but I’m sure I don’t really want to know the content of his erotic fantasies.

What I want to call your attention to in the video below is the little boy, who after King makes his dumb comment, says something to a woman, presumably his mother—why else would a kid sit in the presence of a fanatical politician unless his mom made him?—and I now have used my special Ersthwhile Conservative disgronificator to discern what it was the little boy was asking his mom:

BOY: Were you and daddy doing a spread-eagle search the other night? ‘Cause that image will never leave my mind neither.

MOM: No, we were just rehearsing for out next airplane trip out to see grandma. Now shut up and listen to the nice congressman.

It Wasn’t Just A Joke

Mark Halperin is Time magazine’s senior political analyst and also a regular “contributor” on MSNBC. His job at the “liberal” network, as far as I can tell, is to tell liberals things they could hear on, say, Fox.

Today was no different. He told Andrea Mitchell:

I think Mitt Romney was making a joke. We’ve seen, particularly when he’s in Michigan, when he jokes about the heights of trees—and the left is gonna say I’m making a huge excuse for him.

Well, at least he got that last part right. And for her part, Andrea Mitchell, interviewing Jen Psaki, Obama’s traveling press secretary, compared the Romney birther appeal to President Obama’s real joke about Romney strapping his dog to the top of his car for a 12-hour ride:

He made a joke about Seamus the dog the other day…that was another ad-lib kind of thing…

Yeah, I suppose you can compare a joke about a dog crapping on himself in a crate on top of Mittens’ car to, uh, the black President of the United States not being a proper American. I can see the similarity there, can’t you?

Look, the truth is that Romney, after jumping on the Throw Todd Akin From The Train bandwagon this week, has to show the many crackpots in the GOP some love.

Their feelings have been hurt and there’s nothing like a racist joke to raise their spirits.

About the Romney birth certificate reference, king of the crackpots, Rush Limbaugh, initially said, “Right on! Right on!” and then later got a little more nuanced:

As you can imagine, the media is in a tizzy. The media is in a tizzy…Romney gets up to the microphone. It’s his turn to speak, and he test-drives that line about nobody’s ever had to ask to see his birth certificate…I’m going to tell you what. You know, I’m gonna make a prediction for you. It’s going to be fascinating to watch. The Obama-bashing at the Republican convention is going to be delicious. It’s going to be five-star-restaurant type stuff. I mean, you’re going to love it. You are going to eat it up, all the Obama-bashing. And I’ll bet you what’s happening right now is the networks are trying to figure out how they can avoid airing any of it.

So, to Limbaugh, Mr. I Hope He Fails, what Romney did was no joke, but a test-drive of “all the Obama-bashing” that will go on at the Republican convention.

You’re going to love it. You are going to eat it up,” said the beefy, bigoted broadcaster.

And that, my friends, is why what Romney did was not merely a joke.

Of Course We Know You Were Born and Raised Here Because You’re As Pure And White As The Wind-Driven Snow!

If you ever wondered why Mitt Romney won’t swat away that pesky dung fly named Donald Trump, now you know. Romney said today:

No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised!

Yippy! Now it is official: Mitt Romney has finally become ONE OF THEM.

And the crowd erupted in orgasmic delight.

Whites Only!

“While It Might Seem Totally Impossible…”

In case you haven’t see the following video, I post it here for the simple reason that it explains very well what “the GOP strategy” is for this election, a strategy we have discussed on this blog many, many times.

But in four lively minutes you get an overview of what’s been going on, what is going on now, and what Republicans intend to do moving forward:

1. Republicans have deliberately sabotaged the economic recovery and now blame the resulting sluggishness on President Obama.

2. Outside conservative groups with gazillions in cash have smeared and will continue to smear Mr. Obama with misleading and dishonest ads.

3. Republican governors and legislators are attempting to suppress the votes of  Democratic constituencies, particularly folks of color.

I challenge all you conservative or independent lurkers out there to explain any flaws you think you see in the arguments made here:

1963

[NOTE: I posted this piece in May of this year—when very few people were talking about abortion—and I am reposting it because of its obvious relevance to what is happening in the presidential campaign today.]

Why’d it take so long to see the light? Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right.”

—The Four Seasons, December 1963 

s a presidential candidate, he has changed his mind on an important social issue, one that continues to divide America. And those who fervently hold the view he now holds see him as their champion, despite his past feelings on the issue.  Those newly energized and enthusiastic believers are donating a lot of money to his campaign, expressing an eagerness to work to get him elected, and generally feel good about how his change of heart has helped their cause.

But I’m not talking about Barack Obama and the same-sex marriage issue.

In the late 1950s, Ann Keenan’s older brother married Mitt Romney’s older sister, making her a part of the Romney family.  A few years later, in 1963, Ann Keenan died a victim. Her death certificate explained:

Subarachnoid hemorrhage following septic criminal recent abortion with septic thromboembolism pneumonia and hepatitis with focal necrosis of liver

Criminal recent abortion.”  Keenan had died of an infection following a then-illegal abortion, the infection possibly caused by unsanitary instruments often used in such abortions. Whether she was actually victimized by a careless abortionist or whether she, as Salon put it, “tried to self-induce,” she most certainly was a victim of an as-yet-to-evolve society—Roe v. Wade was still a decade away.

The cause of Ann Keenan’s death was not known even by her friends, due, it is suspected, to the fact that George Romney had become governor of Michigan just a year earlier. In the Detroit News appeared a short notice of her death, described only as “suddenly,” but with this line:

Memorial tributes may be sent to the Planned Parenthood Association.

As Salon pointed out,

Planned Parenthood was at that time an organization focused exclusively on birth control and family planning; abortions, of course, were not yet legal. But the group had sponsored a conference several years earlier supporting liberalization of abortion laws.

Apparently, the Keenan family believed it was important, by their suggestion to pay tribute to their daughter by giving to Planned Parenthood, to show that their daughter’s death could at least call attention to an organization whose position on legal abortions could have saved her life.

It is doubtful that any of us would have ever heard of Ann Keenan if it weren’t for Mitt Romney, who was 16 when she died.   Seeking to win Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, Romney said the following during a 1994 debate, in response to Kennedy—prophetically, it turns out—calling him “multiple choice” on abortion rights:

On the idea of ‘multiple-choice,’ I have to respond. I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.

When Etch-A-Romney says we won’t see him wavering, we can count on a waver coming.  But keep in mind that he said the woman “who passed away from an illegal abortion” was a “close family relative that was very close to me.”

Salon supplied some additional details:

After the debate, the Romney campaign wouldn’t identify the woman Romney had referred to, saying only that she was the sister of Romney’s brother-in-law, and that she had been engaged when she became pregnant. The candidate himself said, “I hadn’t thought much about” abortion until the relative’s death, but that it “obviously makes one see that regardless of one’s beliefs about choice, that you would hope it would be safe and legal.”

That last phrase, “safe and legal,” is where the unwavering Mr. Etch not only wavered, he outright devolved. From his campaign website:

Mitt Romney is pro-life… Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view. But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.

In other words, Mitt Romney would have us return to 1963, when his “close family relative” who was “very close” to him, Ann Keenan, fell victim to the anti-choice mentality that dominated the political and legal landscape at the time. That, my friends, is the mother of all wavers, and someone, somewhere, should specifically ask him about it.

And as if Romney hadn’t done enough damage to the memory of the Keenans, who so long ago urged friends and family to give to Planned Parenthood in memory of their daughter, Romney said in March:

Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.

Someone should ask him about that, too.

So, there you have it. A man who said in 1994 that Ann Keenan’s unnecessary death made him “see that regardless of one’s beliefs about choice, that you would hope it would be safe and legal,” and who insisted, I do not impose my beliefs on other people,” now says that we should return to the days before Roe v. Wade; that he would as president defund Planned Parenthood.

And to make it as worse as can be, Romney was asked in 2007 if he supported the 2004 Republican platform, which stated:

We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.

Such a position, should it become law, could criminalize many forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization. And His Etchiness was all for it:

I do support the Republican platform and I support that being part of the Republican platform and I’m pro-life.

This Mitt Romney guy, whoever he was, is, or will become, is, as I have said before, one strange and creepy cat.

A Black Chunk Of Republican Economics

On Wednesday the Pew Research Center released a report titled, “The Lost Decade of the Middle Class: Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier.” I want to highlight just one part of the report:

For the half century following World War II, American families enjoyed rising prosperity in every decade—a streak that ended in the decade from 2000 to 2010, when inflation-adjusted family income fell for the middle income as well as for all other income groups, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. 

You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to connect what happened in the last decade to the policies of the political party in charge when things went south. Here’s a better graph that shows the damage:

That last little black chunk of negative growth is the George W. Bush-Republican Party legacy, the result of a brand of economics that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are at this moment weirdly championing as the solution to our slow recovery from the ravages of that black chunk of negative growth. Go figure that one out.

Here, in case your eyesight isn’t what it used to be:

Say what you want about Bill Clinton (and I have said plenty of negative stuff myself), if you look back at the decade he dominated, a decade in which taxes were raised to pay for the government people wanted, a decade that saw the budget come into balance, and a decade that saw millions upon millions of new jobs created, you have to admit that the following commercial with its simple message is something folks ought to pay attention to:

Remarks And Asides

I don’t see what the big deal was over Kansas Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder taking his love truncheon for what was, no doubt, a short dip in the Sea of Galilee. I mean, what bored kid in Sunday School doesn’t dream of doing that? Huh?

Fortunately for all involved, my own congressman, Ozark Billy, kept Mr. Winky in his drawer on his $11,789 junket to Israel—paid for by an arm of AIPAC, the Israeli lobbying group—which occurred a week later than the one in which Congressman Yoder’s tallywacker sort of made diplomatic history.

______________________________

Speaking of Israel and the GOP, I have it on good authority that God is so pissed at the Republicans for slandering his name that he may send Isaac in to Tampa to get their attention. Nothing demonstrates God’s wrath like a windy patriarch.

______________________________

Speaking of the Republican convention, Todd Akin has been disinvited. Gee, was it something he said?

______________________________

The Secret Service arrested a man in Washington state for emailing threats to President Obama. Needless to say, when an agent and a policeman went to his door, he greeted them with a shotgun. Like most of us, he also had a gun in his ankle holster.

His poor mum said,

He has a good education, he’s a good boy, but he’s done a stupid thing. Never got arrested, was in the military, has a college education. And I’m just a little bit upset and shocked.

Let me see, he was in the military and has a college education. I wonder which one of those things would best explain why a guy would threaten the president and greet the cops with a gun?

______________________________

Remember when a woman was attacked by three men, who stripped her and carved homophobic slurs in her flesh? Well, forget it:

A former University of Nebraska women’s basketball star who claimed to be the victim of an anti-gay attack appears to have staged the attack herself out of a desire to spark social change, police say.

Hmm. You mean to tell me that there is such a shortage of homophobia in America that you have to make stuff up? Damn. We are making progress.

______________________________

There’s been a lot in the news this year about the Supreme Court and obviously people are paying very close attention:

…even with all that debate over the Supreme Court and its rulings,  two-thirds of Americans can’t name any justices, according to a survey released Monday by FindLaw.com, a legal information Web site.

Okay. So people aren’t paying attention, particularly to institutions that can dramatically affect their lives.

But they are paying attention to important stuff like this:

Kelsey Grammer Wants to Have 9 Kids!

Wow! Who’s Kelsey Grammer?

______________________________

Let’s get serious:

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney’s promise to restore $716 billion that he says President Obama “robbed” from Medicare has some health care experts puzzled…

Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by $342 a year on average over the next decade; in 2022, the average increase would be $577.

Man. Romney better hope Kelsey Grammer keeps on procreatin’.

______________________________

Finally, and speaking of Mittens, it turns out that the “doctor” at the heart of Todd Akin’s theory regarding the special birth-control powers of “legitimately” raped female bodies was a Romney surrogate last time Mittens offered his services to the American people:

Today, Dr. John Willke, a founder of the Pro Life Movement, endorsed Governor Mitt Romney and his campaign for our nation’s highest office. Dr. Willke is a leading voice within the pro-life community and will be an important surrogate for Governor Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda…

Welcoming Dr. Willke’s announcement, Governor Romney said, “I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country…I look forward to working with Dr. Willke and welcome him to Romney for President.”

Rumor has it that the guy who came up with the eat-a-vulture-to-cure-syphilis idea has endorsed Mittens and is about to be welcomed into the 2012 Romney fold.

Bon appétit!

Rednecks For Romney!

The glorious absence of sophistication.”

—Jeff Foxworthy, Romney supporter, defining “redneck”

epublicans are alienating nearly every demographic these days.

They have told black folks to get off food stamps and go to work, and they are trying like mad to keep them from voting.

They have told Hispanics to go home.

They have prodded women with vaginal probes and told them they are going to hell if they use contraceptives or seek abortions, even if raped and impregnated.

It appears the only groups that show the GOP any love these days are redneck country music has-beens and their fans. From CBS News:

Hank Williams Jr. just made it pretty clear which presidential candidate he’ll be voting for come November.

The country singer took a political swing at President Barack Obama while performing for a crowd of 8,500 at the Iowa State Fair Grandstand Friday night.

After finishing the song, “We Don’t Apologize For America,” the audience started chanting “USA, USA…” According to the Des Moines Register, Williams then told the crowd, “We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!”

According to the concert review, Williams’ comments brought on cheers and applause.

We hate him!” brings cheers and applause. At least somebody still understands and appreciates the character of the Republican Party.

Todd Akin Is The Legitimate Candidate, No Matter What The Joplin Globe Says

I’m not sure why the Joplin Globe would say this in its Tuesday editorial:

If it were up to us, Mr. Akin would reach deep into his soul and do the honorable thing. He should drop out of the race and open the door for a legitimate candidate.

Legitimate” candidate? Huh? Todd Akin is about as legitimate a candidate as the Republican Party can offer in this part of the country. As the Globe’s news story on Akin’s rape remarks pointed out:

Akin won every county in the Joplin region in the primary.

Get that? Every bleeping county. And the head of the Jasper County Republican Party, our old friend and evangelical Christian John Putnam—who was just reelected as county committeeman with 70% of the vote!—is not only standing by Akin, he is doubling down on Akin’s stupidity:

Akin’s response “was poorly worded,” Putnam said. “He has apologized for not speaking more clearly and compassionately.

“What he was talking about is forcible rape. There are established studies that show in cases of forcible rape, pregnancy is rare.” Putnam cited an article titled “Rape Pregnancies are Rare,” by John C. Wilke, M.D., from an April 1999 publication called Christian Life Resources.

In case you’re not familiar with Dr. Wilke, The New York Times described him as,

a general practitioner with obstetric training and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee.

Well, that last bit gives him away, doesn’t it? He’s a fanatic that won’t let facts and science get in the way of his extremism. He said on Monday:

This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight. She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.

“Spastic”? I’ll resist the temptation to say what you all are thinking.

The Times quoted a couple of real experts regarding Dr. Wilke’s claims about rape and pregnancy:

“There are no words for this — it is just nuts,” said Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, said, that “to suggest that there’s some biological reason why women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape is absurd.”

Nuts and absurd. That pretty much sums it up. But that doesn’t stop evangelical zealots like our local John Putnam or the fanatics at Missouri Right to Life or the insanely conservative American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer from embracing such nonsense.

Local bidnessman David Humphreys, who the Globe described in its online story accurately as “a heavy-hitter GOP contributor,” but in its print edition less accurately as merely a man “known as a GOP contributor“—wonder why they’d do that?—told the paper via “a one-line statement sent to the Globe by an adviser” that,

Akin is a moron.

Wow. Besides being an awesome bidnessman and a “heavy-hitter GOP contributor,” Humphreys is also a great judge of mental acuity. It’s just too bad he didn’t tell his fellow Republicans that before Akin won the primary.

Thus, moron or not, Akin is the only legitimate candidate the GOP has to offer voters in November, notwithstanding what the Globe may claim. He won the race fair and square and he isn’t any nuttier today than he was when he won it.  People like “heavy-hitter GOP contributor” David Humphreys use evangelical creepiness to win elections, and they should have to live with it when it is on full display.

And now that his nuttiness is out there for all to see and appreciate, it’s about time voters make up their own minds whether crazy evangelical fanatics like Todd Akin are fit to represent them or whether they will soundly reject such people—and the extremists who support them.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Republicans are a funny lot.

Yesterday, Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman and now morning blowhard on MSNBC, was adamant that Mitt Romney use the occasion of Todd Akin’s national stupidity as a “Sister Souljah moment,” a time to demonstrate his leadership over the extremists in the GOP by telling Akin “every day” to “get out!” of the race.

Well, Mittens failed to do that when given his first opportunity, of course, just as he has failed to assert any leadership over other extremists in his party—on the contrary he has essentially embraced them—whether it be Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Allen West or Michele Bachmann or, gawd, that list is almost inexhaustible.

But today’s Joe Scarborough was perfectly fine with Romney’s rather gentle suggestion that Akin,

take these next 24 hours to spend time with himself and his family and conclude what’s right for him and his family and also for the things he believes in for the country.

There was no Sister Souljah moment there. No demands that Akin leave the race and stop embarrassing not just his party but the entire country. Nothing like that. Oh, Romney did say Akin’s “comments about rape were deeply offensive,” but we got no sense of how deep was the offense. But we do know Romney’s comments fell way short of what Scarborough called for on Monday.

But this is Tuesday. Today Scarborough said,

I think Mitt Romney did what was, I think, politically best yesterday.

Politically best? Scarborough explained what he meant when he was challenged earlier:

What would happen if Romney said, “I’m offended by this” and “Get out of the race today!’ and Akin goes, “Screw you”? What are the headlines the next day going into the convention? “He can’t even control a little congressman.” We would all be saying it. “Nobody respects Mitt Romney!” “He can’t even control a little congressman who is an extremist in his party.”

I guess leadership means never taking a risk that someone won’t follow your lead, right, Joe?

So, today, rather than calling for a Sister Souljah moment, Scarborough opts for Pee Wee Herman.

Sanity?

“I’m not a quitter. By the grace of God, we’ll win this race.”

—Todd Akin to Mike Huckabee

et’s review what it was that Todd Akin said about rape:

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

It is hard for folks not acquainted with evangelicalism—I used to be one, remember—to understand how a man living in the 21st century could not only say such a thing in public but actually think it in private.

Akin last year declared that,

at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.

Akin’s ability to say such ridiculous and offensive things is really the product of his evangelical mind, a mind taught to analyze everything in the context of the evangelical conception of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.

Thus, it’s not really that hard to understand that deep within his evangelical psyche lurks an idea that somehow there is a mysterious, God-created mechanism in a woman’s body that would “shut that whole thing down“—if the woman were really raped, as opposed to her somehow secretly desiring or “asking for” or, dare I say it, “enjoying” the experience.

Before you object to that and call it a stretch, think about it. That has to be the subtext behind Akin’s comment or it doesn’t make any sense at all to utter it: “If it’s a legitimate rape…” Just what does it imply if a woman claims she was raped but her “female body” doesn’t “shut that whole thing down” and she gets pregnant? Huh?

A version of this idea existed in medieval times, as pointed out by The Guardian:

The idea that rape victims cannot get pregnant has long roots. The legal position that pregnancy disproved a claim of rape appears to have been instituted in the UK sometime in the 13th century. One of the earliest British legal texts, Fleta, has a clause in the first book of the second volume stating that:

“If, however, the woman should have conceived at the time alleged in the appeal, it abates, for without a woman’s consent she could not conceive.”

This was a long-lived legal argument. Samuel Farr’s Elements of Medical Jurisprudence contained the same idea as late as 1814:

“For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, it is not likely she would become pregnant.”

This thinking horrifies most of us today, even if it may not sufficiently horrify those with Akin-like minds, those who see God as exercising a detailed control over nature and thus in control of who gets pregnant and when.

So it can be that an evangelical candidate for the U.S. Senate actually suggests that nature-God makes a woman’s body such that it would reject the sperm of a rapist if it were “legitimate rape”—presumably defined by whether the woman had “an excitation of lust or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act.

Now, Todd Akin didn’t quite say all that, but think about what he did say and what he could possibly have meant by it and you can see he must have been thinking something very close to it.

Evangelicals of the sort Akin is believe in all kinds of strange ideas about human nature, including that homosexuality is an abomination, a sin, a curse, or that women are glorified servants of men. And these ideas come from a misplaced, often fanatical insistence that the Bible, read and understood and affirmed as the Word of God, is an authoritative guide to understanding the nature of man and the nature and meaning of existence.

But the Bible is an ancient book full of ancient ideas, many of which have been fully discredited by the only practical tool of genuine understanding we have: science.

And science has something to say on the matter of rape. A 1996 study found:

RESULTS:

The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.

CONCLUSIONS:

Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization.

Up against that, we have the evangelical Todd Akin:

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

National figures in the Republican Party are beginning to sound the death knell for Mr. Akin. He naturally is clinging to God and to the possibility of victory. He says Missourians need him to put “some sanity back” in Congress. I for one wish he would stay in the race because I think he does represent a large swath of the Republican Party today.

And we need to find out just how many of our fellow Missourians are willing to embrace such ignorance and superstition and call it “sanity.”

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